Archive for the ‘Will’s Blog’ Category

Elephant Down!

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Born Free Kenya, the Kenya Wildlife Service, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Elsa’s Kopje Lodge to the rescue!

They say a picture tells a thousand words, so here is a short video of a dramatic and amazing incident that happened during my recent trip to Meru National Park in Northern Kenya.

Lodge Manager, George, had witnessed an elephant with a grapefruit-size injury which was weeping pus on the left-hand side of his belly, near the hind-leg.  George asked whether we could help and, of course, I said yes – but how to find one elephant in over 800 sq kms?

The following morning at 6 am we set off, criss-crossing the Park to try and look for the injured animal.  By 11.30 am, we had come up with nothing.  However, just as we got back to the Lodge to take a short break, George pointed to a solitary young male elephant visible through binoculars from the Lodge itself.  We rushed down to see whether he was our candidate.  He was, so together with Tim Oloo, Born Free’s Country Manager, we sat in our vehicle observing him while the KWS vet, Dr Rono, supported by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, was alerted and drove to the scene along with members of the Born Free Kenya team.  It was not easy.  After several hours, the elephant started to move off and ended up in a very rocky and inaccessible area where vehicles could not go.

Thinking that he may be following a watercourse, we drove around to the next track and within half an hour, lo and behold, ‘our elephant’ crossed the track and headed up to a flat and open area to the left.  Victor, our Born Free Project Manager, and Dr Rono followed, leaving us to wait for a radio signal to join them when it was appropriate.  The minutes seemed to drag.  There was no news.  Suddenly the radio sprang into life and Victor urgently called us in to help make sure that other elephants in the area did not come to the aid of their now prostrate companion.  We were with him in just ten minutes.

It turned out that the grapefruit-sized lump on his side was only the tip of a putrid iceberg.  Inside the body cavity, the wound was seemingly five or six times as large and with literally litres of putrid material and pus.  Dr Rono expertly flushed the system out making a small incision about six inches below the main wound so that it could drain properly.  Then the heavily-sedated elephant was given antibiotics and other medication before he administered the reversal injection.

We all retreated to the relative safety of our vehicles to see what would happen next.  Within 60 seconds the elephant was up, seemingly bemused and really cross!  He charged away up the hill before turning to the nearest innocent bush and giving it a thorough beating.  Then, with a further series of outraged trumpets, he disappeared into the distance, just as light was fading.

The film is here.  It is a story of compassion and, I hope, success.  I have asked the Born Free team on the ground to report back to confirm that the elephant is well and is making a good recovery.  Dr Rono suggested that he would take a further look and gave the elephant a 70% chance of survival.  I hope he is right.  But one thing is for sure, if KWS, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Elsa’s Kopje Lodge and Born Free Kenya had not stepped in, he would almost certainly be dead.

Blogging off.
Will

Westminster event postponed

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

The thoughts and sympathies of everyone at the Born Free Foundation are with all those affected by the terrorist attack at Westminster yesterday.

Born Free was due to hold an event – Beyond the Bars: The Welfare of Captive Wild Animals in the UK – at Portcullis House on the evening of the 22nd March. The Born Free team were in the process of travelling to the event when the tragedy unfolded, and are thankfully all safe and well.

Due to the horrific attack, our event was postponed. But it has not been cancelled. The issues the Beyond the Bars report sought to address – setting out a 15-point Priority Plan designed to improve and safeguard the future welfare of the millions of wild animals kept in captivity in the UK, in zoos, circuses – and as exotic pets – are crucial, and our message must be brought to the attention of MPs at Westminster as soon as possible. Our concerns for the welfare of captive wild animals – concerns shared by millions of British citizens – lie at the very heart of everything we do at Born Free, and we will continue to seek a better, more compassionate future for them.

Born Free will be in touch with all those due to attend Beyond the Bars as soon as possible with further news of the rescheduled event.

Like the rest of the UK, today is business as usual at Born Free. And we stand shoulder to shoulder with all those who refuse to be intimidated by terrorism and will not live our lives in fear. We stand for freedom.

Will Travers

Chimps in Danger – Time to Turn The Tide

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

Dear Friends.

We’ve done pretty much everything to chimpanzees.

We’ve shot them into space, used them to sell tea, smuggled their babies as exotic ‘pets’, dressed them up as clowns in the circus, experimented on them for dubious medical research – even, in some parts of the world, eaten them.

And yet we have failed to do the one thing that really matters – we have failed to protect them and their natural forest home.

The BBC’s in-depth report on the cynical smuggling of live baby chimps from West Africa to markets in the Middle East and the Far East, broadcast this week, has shocked millions.

The look of helpless despair in the face of ‘Nemley Junior’, the infant chimp recovered in a sting operation, carried out with officers from the Cote d’Ivoire Police and Interpol, touched a million hearts.

And yet, while those concerned with the ravages of wildlife crime focus on elephants and rhino, the criminal syndicates intent on illegally trading our closest living relative remain largely ignored and untouched.

Conservation and law enforcement organisations such as LAGA (Last Great Ape) and the EAGLE network, together with campaigning individuals like world-famous photographer Karl Amman, have, for too long, been lone voices, trying to bring attention to a despicable trade that has probably caused the death of 4,000 chimpanzees in the last 10 years.

Even top Interpol officials such as David Higgins and the Secretary General of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), John Scanlon, lament the low level of attention and meagre funding that has been directed towards finding and bringing to justice those behind the trafficking.

Maybe the BBC’s investigation will start to change that? No one who saw the reports can fail to have been moved – and now it is time for action.

But what will it take?

Well money, for sure. Money to fund intelligence gathering, enforcement, judicial training, assisting prosecutors, and more. For too long, wildlife crime, including the live trade in great apes, has been regarded as a low risk/high reward activity. Laws need to be changed and judges motivated to exponentially increase the risk. Long custodial sentences, together with the sequestration of assets of crime – houses, cars, bank accounts – will make many criminals think again.

How much money I can’t say, but given that the illegal wildlife trade is worth up to $30billion a year, would a few million be too much to ask?

We also need to change attitudes, and that requires political will. While it remains acceptable for wealthy individuals in the Middle East to ‘own’ a status symbol ‘pet’ such as a chimp (or a cheetah), or while audiences in China still regard juvenile chimps (the adults are too dangerous), dressed up in costumes and performing ‘marriage ceremonies’ in circuses and zoos as amusing, then change will be glacially slow.

But we have seen how fast things can change when there is political will. The fact that China is now a leader in terms of addressing the bloody ivory trade (while the UK drags its feet) is clear evidence of that.

We also need to accept our own responsibility. Look for chimps on Instagram (other social media platforms are available) and you’ll finds dozens, hundreds of ‘selfies’ featuring endangered wildlife such as chimps, lion and tiger cubs, and more. People pay to have that ‘once in a lifetime’ photo and that’s also what drives the illegal trade. We all have a responsibility to pledge never to have our photo taken with an exotic ‘pet’. And if we see some activity involving wild animals when we are traveling, we can do something about it by reporting what we see to Born Free. We can all do something!

And if there is anyone out there with the financial resources to help profoundly turn the tide then please do contact me directly.

Otherwise, if you would like to join me in sponsoring the lifetime care of a rescued baby chimp, then please do consider helping care for Sara or Chinoise through Born Free.

David Shukman and the BBC, together with the dedicated wildlife officers of Cote D’Ivoire, have brought this disgusting trade to the attention of the world. Nemley Junior has been rescued from the hands of the traffickers. Maybe, just maybe, the tide has begun to turn.

Blogging off.

Will

Will Travers OBE
President,
Born Free Foundation

New Year Message

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

Dear Friends,

Tomorrow, 2017 will begin.

As with every New Year, there is a sense of expectation. That war will cease, the poverty will end, that our planet will be protected and that compassion will conquer all.

It may not turn out like that but that is no excuse for not trying – we must strive as never before.

And we must not forget our fellow travellers, the animals who share our spinning orb and whose survival is in our hands.

Born Free will continue to do all it can for wildlife in the wild but, in 2017, we shall also return to our roots and focus our efforts with even greater intensity on the millions of wild animals detained for our ‘pleasure’ and our ‘entertainment’.

My mother wrote the following words in 1987, thirty years ago. They remain as true today as they did then and they keep the fire of indignation and outrage burning as strong as ever. Wild animals locked up for life in zoos, circuses and menageries for little better reason than that it provides a momentary distraction cannot go unchallenged and, with the help of our supporters around the world, Born Free will always be clear, strong and principled in our opposition to the exploitation of individual wild animals ‘for fun’.

Here’s what Virginia wrote all those years ago:

“Sometimes the anger I feel towards those establishments, and the people who condone the perpetuation of the kind of captivity I am fighting against, chokes me. Sometimes when things get rough I feel frustrated and hopeless; the proverbial brick wall seems thicker than ever, and my voice, a very small one, shouting against the wind. But then, in my mind, I see the animals in the zoos. The bear in an indoor cage, four metres by three; the solitary monkey chained within its concrete pen; birds so confined that flight is impossible; the jungle cat crouching in the doorway of its wooden box inside its tiny concrete cage. I see the look in their eyes. It is a look I cannot forget, which I will not betray and which will follow me for the rest of my days”Virginia McKenna writing in ‘Beyond The Bars’(page 39) ‘Past , Present – Future Indicative’, 1987, Thorsons Publishing Group.

Still so true.

So, may I wish you all a wonderful New Year and ask that, in the months ahead, you keep those fellow travellers in mind. I know you will.

Very best wishes

Blogging off

Will

Please support our New Year appeal – Beyond the Bars

Christmas Blog

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

Dear Friends,

This is possibly my shortest blog of the year!

2016 has seen a world full of challenge and change. The coming year looks set to be just as uncertain.

But one thing you can be sure of: Born Free, and our relentless efforts for wild animals in need, wherever they are to be found.

And you can also be sure of my personal appreciation, on behalf of those animals and also on behalf of all my friends and colleagues who work so tirelessly here at Born Free, for all the support we receive – the words of encouragement, the acts of kindness and the gifts of generosity.

As we close down for a break, to recover a little, to recharge the batteries, to re-energise for the year to come and the mountains we shall climb, may I say a profound ‘thank you’.

I hope your Christmas or seasonal holidays will be filled with friends, family and peace – and I look forward to your company on our journey towards a more compassionate world in 2017.

With best wishes and all good thoughts

Will

Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade

Monday, November 14th, 2016

Dear Friends,

This week, delegates from 54 countries, governments, wildlife professionals, conservationists, wildlife trade experts, charities such as Born Free and our friends in the press and media, will gather in Hanoi, Vietnam, to drive forward efforts to end the illegal wildlife trade, especially the trade in ivory and rhino horn.

Vietnam, our hosts, is regarded as one of the destination countries for illegal wildlife trade but things may be changing.

On November 12th, in an indication of its growing commitment to change and to the protection of threatened wildlife, Vietnam will destroy 2,000 kg of seized ivory, together with 70kg of seized rhino horn. The following is a copy of the text of my video message to the meeting which has been requested by the United Kingdoms’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office and which will be broadcast in the run-up to the meeting.

I have been working on this issue for nearly 33 years. Battles have been won and lost but I believe that we can still win for the animals and that the tide is, at last, turning.

Blogging off

Will

“The upcoming Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade is the third in a series of global multi-stakeholder gatherings, initiated in 2014 in London by the United Kingdom Government and United for Wildlife, and followed by the Kasane meeting, hosted by the Government of the Republic of Botswana in 2015. They are all intended to help address the negative impacts of wildlife trafficking on iconic wild species, notably elephants, rhino and lions.

This vitally important meeting, hosted by the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, provides an opportunity to evaluate the progress made so far towards achieving the objectives set out in The London Declaration and enhanced in The Kasane Statement, and to set further goals which will enhance protection, reduce demand and disrupt criminal activities.

Critical to this are six key objectives:

1/ Support and improve intelligence-led enforcement designed to infiltrate and dismantle the activities of organised criminal networks which currently see the illegal exploitation of wildlife as a low risk, high reward, activity.

2/ In line with United Nation’s recommendations, harmonise international penalties and legal sanctions associated with wildlife crime, including deterrent levels of sentencing and the sequestration of assets to increase the risk that those involved in organised wildlife crime are exposed to and to make it clear that, when it comes to wildlife crime, there is nowhere to run.

3/ Support and further encourage those involved in wildlife law enforcement in the field, those involved in applying evidence-based demand reduction strategies and those in the shipping and transport sector to help ensure there is no hiding place for those who would trade in the body parts of some of our planet’s most iconic species.

4/ As endorsed at CITES CoP17, close domestic ivory markets thereby removing the opportunity for illegal wildlife products such as ivory to be laundered through a legal trade.

5/ Destroy or dispose of ivory stockpiles in line with the measures also agreed at CITES CoP17

6/ Harness the talents, energy and commitment of all stakeholders, including civil society, in uniting to defeat wildlife trafficking and secure a future for wild species.  In that regard, I urge UK citizens to sign petition 165905, details of which can be found on the Born Free website (www.bornfree.org.uk)

On behalf of The Born Free Foundation, a member of the Species Survival Network, and our supporters worldwide, we urge the delegates to this Conference to:

Redouble their efforts;

To build on progress to date;

To set targets and timelines for agreed objectives;

To support the implementation of those objectives; and

To respond fully to the deep concerns expressed by people around the world who fear for the survival of wild elephants, rhino, lions and many other species.

Finally, and specifically, we would respectfully ask the Government of Vietnam to further demonstrate its leadership on these issues and its commitment to conservation by introducing measures – including working with partners to resolve human-elephant conflict – that would result in a doubling of the number of wild elephants in the country within the next 10 years

I am grateful for all your hard work and I wish this vitally important meeting great success.

Thank you.”

Will Travers OBE
President and CEO The Born Free Foundation

Virginia McKenna’s Born Free

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

I was going to write about the documentary which was shown on Channel 4 on Sunday evening but then I thought, why? Here is everything you need to know if you are in the UK and haven’t seen the film, or wish to see it again.

Letter from Virginia

I was overwhelmed by the response to the documentary shown on Channel 4 on Sunday evening, charting the story of how the film Born Free was made and how it changed my life, and the lives of my late husband Bill and our eldest son Will, forever.

The many emails and messages I have received have been humbling and deeply touching and I wanted to thank everyone who so kindly wrote.

If you did not see the film then I believe you can watch it by following this link.

Many people have asked me what they can do to help, and my son Will has made the following suggestions which I hope you may find useful.

Please don’t stay silent. We are the voices for the wild animals we hold in trust and who cannot speak for themselves. Whether your passion is lions, or elephants, rhinos or pangolins or, indeed, all wild species, we must ensure our elected leaders make the protection of wildlife a top priority. You can write to your MP or, if you wish, to the Prime Minister herself – I always believe in going to the top!

Please tell your friends and family about the work of the Born Free Foundation. For nearly 33 years we have been fighting for wildlife both in captivity and in its fragile natural habitat. I know that millions of people, like you, care deeply about the future of life on earth. We simply must spread the word.

And finally, if you would be willing, then I invite you to become part of my family, the family of Born Free, through adopting one of our rescued or free-living animals or by joining Born Free and helping make our voice, our impact and our influence even stronger.

I was so incredibly lucky, over 50 years ago, to make a film with Bill that opened our eyes and changed the way we looked at the world. We could not have done that without the Adamsons, and especially George who became a lifelong friend.

Thanks to them, the Spirit of Elsa burns brightly and Born Free is the torchbearer for this and future generations.

I do hope you will want to help keep the flame burning.

Thank you so much.

Blogging off,

Will

CITES – Why it needs your support!

Friday, September 16th, 2016

Dear Friends,

On the 24th September several thousand people will gather in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Another ‘talking shop’ I hear you groan. Why don’t we just get on and save the animals!?  What’s the point of yet another conference when species such as elephant, rhino, pangolin, lion, tiger and many more are in such dire straits? What’s the point of CITES anyway?

HOLD ON A MINUTE. That’s just what some of the all-consuming, pro-trade lobby want –  not to mention the illegal criminal networks and poaching syndicates making a killing exploiting wildlife.

Let me explain:

People often say to me that we should get rid of CITES. That it has failed.

For sure, CITES can be improved but, for a moment, imagine that it did not exist.

Then we all said ‘you know what, all these species in trade need some sort of protection. We need an international treaty that is aimed at controlling and, where necessary, preventing trade in species whose future could be in jeopardy because of trade. We’ll need to have a Secretariat to make sure countries stick to the rules and so that, at least in principle, everyone plays by those rules. That Secretariat, with our support, needs to be able to suspend all trade in species of wild fauna and flora from any country that goes too far. We’ll need a body in each country – let’s call it the Scientific Authority – to rigorously assess the viability of any trade in live animals and plants or specimens. We’ll need another body – let’s call it the Management Authority – in each country to ensure that national laws are compliant with the terms of the Treaty and to manage trade at a national level. And we’ll have a meeting of all the contracting countries – the Parties – every 2 or 3 years, where proposals relating to trade will be discussed, where additional protection can be approved and where, if we agree, international trade can be suspended or banned. Oh, and let’s agree that a vote of two thirds or more in favour of any motion will be internationally binding…”

Sounds like a pretty important concept to me. But remember, in this fantasy world I have created, it doesn’t exist. It’s an idea we’ve just dreamed up.

Now ask yourselves: Would we, today, ever be able to turn such an idea into reality? I suspect the answer would be a solid NO. A quick look at the other environmental agreements such as the Convention on Migratory Species or the Convention on Biological Diversity, important in their own right, clearly demonstrates that unlike CITES they simply do not have the ability to hold countries to account, to introduce trade sanctions at a global level, ban international trade in ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales, lion and tiger body parts and so much more.

That is why I have attended every CITES meeting since 1989, fighting for the highest levels of protection under international law possible for species threatened by global trade. That is why I will be there in Johannesburg with my Born Free colleagues, Mark, Adam, Gabriel, Tim, Alice, Manori and Marion, as well as delegates from the influential Species Survival Network to challenge those who would trade at any cost, those who would commercialise and commodify wild animals and plants, risking, in my view, their very survival.

We have CITES and we must be thankful for that and we must make the most of it, make it work to its full potential and ensure that, as far as I am concerned, it delivers a precautionary agenda so that we don’t speculate on our wildlife heritage but we conserve and protect and nurture it.

Support our work and follow the events of CITES CoP17 as they unfold here!

Born Free is the voice for the voiceless and your support makes our voice louder still. Thank you.

Blogging off

Will

Japan Dolphin Day Protest

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

This week, Born Free Policy advisor, Dominic Dyer, discusses an important day for dolphins.

“Born Free Foundation will be joining with the Dolphin Protect and the campaign group London Against the Dolphin Massacre to support the Japan Dolphin Day Protest March in London on Thursday 1st September. Please join us!

Japan Dolphin Day is a global day of protest in cities around the world to focus global attention on the start of the dolphin hunts and captures in Taiji Cove in Japan, which was the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary the Cove in 2009. Every year up to 2,000 dolphins are killed at Taiji Cove between September and February. In these hunts large groups of dolphins are rounded up by fast boats and herded into the bay or harbour. Rope is then tied around their tails and they are hauled out of the water into the boats, to suffer a long traumatic death by having a steel lance inserted into their spinal chords.

The Japanese government defends the dolphin hunts on cultural grounds by saying dolphin meat remains an important part of the Japanese diet. In reality, most people in Japan avoid eating dolphin meat in view of health risks due to heavy metal content and most of the dolphins killed at Taiji Cove end up as dog food or fertiliser. But it’s not culture that keeps the dolphin hunts at Taiji Cove going, but greed. A dead dolphin is worth in region of £300 to a fishermen but a live specimen can sell for over £100,000 and are in high demand from aquariums and marine parks around the world.

Every year dolphin trainers from around the world travel to Taiji Cove to select live dolphins from the slaughter to be flown to aquariums and marine parks in places such as China, Philippines, South Korea and Egypt.

London has become the global centre for the Taiji Cove protest movement with thousands of people regularly coming together for protests outside the Japanese Embassy at Green Park. Born Free Foundation is playing a key role in supporting this campaign movement which is increasing the political pressure on the Japanese government and generating more media coverage and public interest in the killing and capture of dolphins for the global marine park business.

I look forward to joining thousands of people on the protest march through central London on Thursday and speaking alongside the wonderful dolphin protection campaigner Ric O’Barry, outside the Japanese Embassy. I will be drawing attention to the Born Free’s #TanksNOthanks campaign in my speech, which is aimed at encouraging people not to buy tickets to dolphinariums or to swim with dolphins.

Please join us:
Japan Dolphin Thursday 1st September
12 noon at Cavendish Square Gardens, London W1
Nearest tube – Oxford Circus
The march to the Japanese Embassy will start at 1pm. This day marks the beginning of another season of the of the dolphin drive hunts in Taiji, Japan. Join forces for a peaceful protest against Taiji and its cruel barbaric annual hunts. Guest speakers include Ric O’Barry (Dolphin Project) and Dominic Dyer.

Thank you

Dominic”

George Adamson

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

We all need inspiration in our lives

George Adamson

‘It is hard to believe that on 20th August it will be the 27th anniversary of George Adamson’s murder.  I have so many memories of him – all ve
ry personal and all shared with my late husband Bill.  George was one of our closest friends; he introduced us to a world that has remained part of our lives ever after. A world in which people and wild animals can live in harmony, providing we respect and understand them.

Today we are overwhelmed by violence, anger, suffering – hard sometimes to be optimistic.  But as long as there are people like George in our hearts and minds, we should never despair.

Bill and I went to George’s funeral in Kora, Kenya.  We all mourned the passing of a kind and modest man – and the next day lions came and sat by his grave.’ Virginia McKenna, Founder Trustee Born Free Foundation.

We all need inspiration in our lives. Motivation to try harder, dig deeper, push further.

The Olympics inspires: whether its gymnastics, diving, rowing, running, sailing, jumping, sprinting, throwing, hitting,  – every four years we are glued to our televisions, radios, tablets and smart phones as we watch the pinnacle of human sporting prowess do things that amaze – and inspire!

This reminds me of other figures who inspire, figures from the world of wildlife and conservation.

On the 20th August 1989, George Adamson was murdered. Driving to the rescue of a guest who had been attacked by bandits near the Kora airstrip in a remote part of northern Kenya, George drew his pistol, revved the engine and, along with two of his assistants, was subsequently shot dead. The bandits fled.

To many, including myself, the life of George Adamson symbolises a journey that we all make. A journey of discovery and revelation. As someone who was once a hunter and traded elephant ivory, George discovered his true inner-self working to give first Elsa (along with his wife Joy) the chance of a wild and free life and then over 20 other lions.

As a very small boy I met him near the ‘set’ of the film Born Free in 1964, when my mother and father, Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, took nearly a year retelling the story of George, Joy and Elsa for the big screen.

Born Free Film

I met him again in the 1970’s when, as a family, we spent an extraordinary Christmas with George, his brother Terence and Tony Fitzjohn at Kora, wearing paper hats, eating mince pies, watched by lions.

I saw him again when Dad and I paid him a visit and watched as this small, seemingly frail but incredibly resilient man threw tasty morsels to six adult lions gathered round the back of his car.

George Adamson and Lions

There was a further opportunity to experience George’s world when, with a friend, I delivered a donated sky-blue Land Rover to his little camp in the immense rocky shadow of the 500 foot high ‘Kora Tit’ and spent an unimaginable week looking for – and finding – George’s pride of wild lions.

Finally, in the mid-1980’s George came to our family home in Surrey, to recuperate from an eye operation and to write (or rather record in conversation with my father) his final book My Pride and Joy. The manuscript was typed by my then wife and I on an old typewriter (no computers or spell-check) but it was George’s arrival at the house that shall always stay with me. Dressed in a brown tweed suit, George came into the living room and Dad offered him a whisky. Realising that George had not seen colour TV before (it was still new and exciting way back then) we turned the television on… and stood transfixed. The Des O’Connor Show… Des on stage with a guest singer…. The singer was Matt Monro… the song was Born Free. It still sends shivers up my spine.

George lived his dream. It was a life of simplicity and modest needs, far from the modern world, harsh yet beautiful, in a wilderness he was determined to protect and with creatures who needed his guiding hand. He inspired and attracted many people who wanted to find out his secret but there was none, unless it be: To be true, and generous, and kind – to treat each living animal with respect and compassion.

What George would have made of the crisis facing lions across Africa, I shudder to think. Just 20,000 lions left when there seemed to be so many. His reaction to the on-going trophy hunting of lions, supported by some of the world’s largest conservation organisations, would have been one of sheer disbelief and horror. And he would have been far too much of a gentleman to put in writing his opinion of those who oppose the listing of lions on CITES Appendix I – his look of utter disgust would have been enough.

Along with my late father, and a handful of extraordinary individuals, sadly gone and deeply missed, George, The Father of Lions, remains my inspiration. We shall not see their like again.

George’s Legacy is one that we hold dear to our hearts at the Born Free Foundation. Caring for individual animals; believing that Compassionate Conservation is the way forward; determined to protect wild nature at all costs; and to end the exploitation of wild animals in captivity. Help us keep the spirit of Elsa burning bright.

Born Free’s Year of the Lion

Blogging off

Will